The 2020 Wrap-Up

I think we’re all ready to slam the door on 2020, an exhausting experience of a year which consistently dredged up exciting new ways to make us collectively say “oh, for fuck’s sake.” I actually managed to get a lot of writing done, but did a pretty terrible job keeping my website updated; posting anything on here always slipped between the cracks of time spent staying sane by binge-rewatching 90’s Star Trek series, gaming online with friends I’d get together with on Saturdays before the pandemic, and, eventually, looking forward to the weekly spacefaring adventures of The Mandalorian. Since the year’s finally coming to a close, I thought I should finally mention the handful of publications I’ve had in 2020’s second half which never really got a proper shout-out.

In July, I had a short story published within the digital folds of The J.J. Outré Review, an online quarterly journal featuring all sorts of genre fiction. My contribution was a sci-fi piece titled Likeness, a story about an ordinary guy getting a lot more than he bargained for after signing over the use of his likeness in the possible near-future of the post-deepfake acting industry. You can read it for yourself here!

Then, in August, I had a pair of drabbles published in Ancients, a dark microfiction anthology published by Black Hare Press. The first, Freedom, is about a gladiator fighting to free himself, and the second, Monumental Mourning, involves the sudden awakening of a certain ancient monument. If tiny tales of ancient myths and civilizations are up your alley, you can snag a copy of Ancients on Amazon.

October offered up a fantastic surprise; I was able to find a perfect home for something I never actually thought would get published, haha. I’d written a poem about a particular moment in piratical history, a day from 1717 which will hopefully be remembered as the charming, odd pinnacle of Benjamin Hornigold’s infamous career. The poem, An Uncommon Bounty, was one of the first pieces published by Sundial Magazine, a new online magazine of historical fiction. You can read the poem here!

Finally, earlier this month, I had a short story published in Sunshine Superhighway, a collection of optimistic sci-fi stories put together by the fine folks at JayHenge Publishing! They previously published my civicspunk story Like Clockwork in their Unrealpolitik anthology, which was also edited by Jessica Augustsson. This time around, my story’s called The Best Thing Since, a sci-fi piece about the simple pleasure of sharing a familiar meal. I’m really glad to end this long year with an upbeat anthology; if you want to dive into some optimistic fiction yourself, the book’s readily available on Amazon.

Community of Magic Pens

We’re living in pretty strange times with the shadow of COVID-19 looming over everyday life. As stressful as everything has been lately, with stay-at-home orders and timeline uncertainty, it seems like a great time to revel in fiction. So I’m especially happy to announce the release of Community of Magic Pens, Atthis Arts’ latest short fiction anthology!

Community of Magic Pens is filled with 40 stories which span a bunch of different genres, from fantasy and science fiction to alternate history and magical realism, all focused on the central theme of magical pens. My own little contribution to the collection is a short sci-fi piece about a lone terraformer bringing new life to a barren moon with her trusty stylus. If you think it might be up your alley, you can snag a copy for yourself from Atthis Arts or on Amazon.

Gunsmoke & Dragonfire

Gunsmoke & Dragonfire is finally out! It’s a hearty anthology of 25 fantasy Western stories which dabbles around in some other speculative genres, like science fiction, post-apocalyptic, and cattlepunk, too. This book’s a really special release for me, since my little tale is both the very first one in the collection and the story behind the cover art.


My tale, Inheritance, is of an encounter between a wandering gunslinger and a shopkeeping enchanter, briefly brought together by their late fathers’ past dealings. I wrote it after getting super inspired by the anthology’s title during its call for submissions, and was thrilled when Diane Morrison, Gunsmoke & Dragonfire’s wonderful editor, chose to include it in the book. You can snag a copy right now on Amazon or directly from Diane via Aradia Publishing!


JayHenge Publishing’s latest anthology, Unrealpolitik, has officially been released! I’ve been awaiting its debut for months after having my first deeply political story, Like Clockwork, accepted for the book. The tale mashes extremist politics and gladiatorial combat together in a fast and furious civicspunk romp.


Like Clockwork means a lot to me. It was an avenue for venting frustration with the ongoing Trumpian dumpster fire (and the terrible system which spawned it) when I first wrote it more than a year ago. It was something I really needed to write, and it feels great to finally have it out in the open in the midst of all of the current political craziness.

Unrealpolitik is stuffed with 37 stories, exploring all sorts of political themes through the lens of speculative fiction. If you want to escape the real world’s flurry of headlines for a while, hop on over to Amazon and grab yourself a copy.


dd1Fans of extreme brevity, rejoice! Drabbledark is nearly out. It’s an anthology of drabbles, stories told in exactly 100 words. There’s 101 stories from 86 writers with a bunch of variety; my little contribution is post-apocalyptic, but the themes of the pieces run the gamut from monsters and murders to stalkers and summonings. The sole common denominator is, as the title suggests, that the stories within are all quite dark.

Usually I wait until an official publication date to mention anything which includes my work, but Drabbledark’s a bit of a special case. Technically the book releases on the 20th, but the paperback version was made available slightly early to account for shipping times. You can find both with a quick hop over to Amazon.

Tales of Ruma

Tales of Ruma is finally out! It’s a great collection of 17 short stories inspired by the myths and legends of ancient Rome, Greece, and Ruma, an original RPG setting created by the editor, Martin Greening. These stories come in all sorts of flavors; you’ll find tales of the gods, telepathic unicorns, giant elemental creatures, and gritty, bloody battles between mere mortals. I’m super honored to have been included as something of a new kid on the block alongside a bunch of really spectacular writers.


My story’s a brief battle scene titled From the Pan to the Flames. I wrote it specifically for Martin’s Ruma setting in the hopes of contributing to his fledgling world and was thrilled when he accepted it into the anthology. It was a magical experience to see and hold my work in print for the first time. My short story The Collection, appearing in Lucent Dreaming, was published first, but my copy of their debut issue took a bit of time to make the long journey across the pond.

The book is available in both paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon. You can also take a sneak peak at the first story in the book, The Question that Matters by Jody Lynn Nye, thanks to Amazon’s nifty Look Inside feature. If you want to get even more of an idea of what the anthology has to offer, Jonathan Ficke, another contributor, wrote up a great rundown of all of the stories over on his website.

The Collection

A short contemporary fantasy story of mine, The Collection, is now available in Issue 1 of Lucent Dreaming, a brand new creative writing magazine from the United Kingdom!


The Collection follows an ordinary guy who quickly finds himself in the midst of a bunch of eccentric performers. It’s my favorite thing I’ve had published so far and was among the first pieces of short fiction I wrote, the first draft having been written near the end of 2016. The Collection went through quite a few edits and submissions afterwards, since finding the perfect home for stories can be a slow endeavor. I was thrilled when the folks at Lucent Dreaming accepted it, and their editors were an enormous help in making the story the best that it could possibly be.

You can read most of the first issue and all of my story right here, in the free .pdf version of the debut issue! Or, if paper’s more your style, you can also snag a copy of the gorgeous print edition here. (UPDATE: The print run of the first issue officially ended and the back issues all sold out! Don’t worry, the .pdf up there is alive, well, and free.)

By the way, more stuff is coming! I’ve started listing pieces which have been accepted but not yet published in my bibliography with “Forthcoming” in lieu of a publication date. Feel free to swing by and sneak a peek at some upcoming titles.

Out of Lightspeed

A loud ding echoed through the ship’s intercoms, indicating an announcement from the onboard computer. “Imminent collision detected. Dropping out of lightspeed.”

Ashe flung herself from her bunk. She grabbed her jumpsuit from the back of her chair as she rushed towards the cockpit. “Why’d we drop out?”

“Imminent collision detected.”

“Yeah, I heard you. Tell me why. Run a scan.” The cockpit door slid open. Ashe tugged on the suit and jumped into the control seat.


Ashe checked the route. She was nearly halfway through her trip. With the hauler being thrown out of its faster-than-light course, she’d need to plot a new route with at least one stop to realign.

“Scan complete. Three targets approaching.”

For a moment she thought they might be asteroids, but knew better when the movement indicators started swirling on the viewscreen. They wove around each other in tight circles, a favored approach tactic for a squadron of light craft to avoid taking fire in formation. Her hauler had light cannons, but Ashe wouldn’t be able to scrap three zippy ships before being torn apart herself.

“Where’s the nearest Guild location?”

“Outpost 372 on Fascillum. Two hours and seven minutes away at lightspeed.”

“Plot it.” She watched the course generate. She’d be intercepted before the engines were ready to engage again. “Damn. Anything else nearby?”

“Pariah Corporation Fueling Depot. Sixteen minutes away at lightspeed.”

Ashe grunted. There was no time for a distress call, either. She couldn’t outrun fast little fighters for long in a cargo hauler. Even if she managed to run, there was no guarantee anyone nearby would respond to her distress call, and her pursuers would surely hear it first. “Okay. Plot a course for the fuel station. Get the lightspeed engines primed for a jump when we’re aligned. Keep a full scan running, I need details on those ships.”

“Course ready. Engines priming. Scan–“

“Silent mode. Put the details on the viewer when you’ve got them.” Ashe took a deep breath. They had to be pirates, or something of the sort. The hauler was equipped with a sensor package to identify security, police, and military vessels. These were none of the above, and they were closing in with the haste of a squadron out for blood.

Another ding in the cockpit indicated that she was being hailed. Ashe sighed with relief. At least they weren’t the type to shoot first and loot the wreckage. She flipped the comm switch. “Courier’s Guild hauler 262966 responding to your hail.”

“Stay where you are and keep the comm open. If you run, you die. Got it?”

The voice was male with an ordinary core-world accent. “In accordance with Guild policy–”

“No legal jargon. Say you got it or you’re dead.”

“Okay, got it.”

“Anyone else in there? Looks like a one-crew, but I don’t like surprises.”

“It’s just me.” The ships had come close enough for the scan to get more information. Readouts popped up on the viewscreen. Two of the craft were light fighters flying below their top speed to keep pace with the third ship. The fighters were outdated, probably acquired after some small-time planetary dispute had blown over. The other ship was something else entirely. It was a doofer, short for a do-it-yourselfer, a ship that was built from the parts of other ships. Like most doofers, it was a mess; this one was the soaring remnants of at least seven other ships. The doofer was bigger than the fighters but still a fairly small craft.

“Hey, you catch the fight?”


“The fight? From the Savage Coalition? Typhoon Hansen and Liza Maccuddoch. Supposed to be the biggest duel of the year. Typhoon has these crazy burning knives and Mac’s new shieldsuit is ridiculous. We’re too far out to get the stream yet. Savage streams from Hareldon, so I thought it might’ve reached you back before you hit the jump.”

They know where I started the faster-than-light jump. If they know where I went into lightspeed, they must know the whole course. They want something specific. Ashe struggled to keep up with her thoughts. “Uh… no.” She stumbled through the words. “Sorry. I’m not into bloodsports.” There must be something valuable in the hold. She pulled up the cargo manifest and started scrolling through, searching for anything odd.

“Shit. I wanted a hint. We’ve got a betting pool going. Okay, listen, here’s how it’s gonna go. We’re gonna board you. We watch you and look through the stuff you’re hauling. If you’ve got what we want, we take it, we leave. All nice and friendly. You won’t see our faces and our voices will be scrambled. Including this one. Not my real voice. Sounds good, though, right?”

Ashe paused awkwardly as he stopped talking, distracted by the manifest. “Sure?”

“Be honest. Always be honest with me, lady.”

“You sound fine.”

“Good. It was a total pain in the ass to configure. Anyway, you don’t know who we are, so we can let you go when we’re done.” Not likely, she thought. If she was carrying something valuable they wouldn’t take the chance. They’d probably kill her and chop up the hauler to expand their doofer. “You won’t get any heat from the Guild for letting us take something. Matter of fact, they’ll probably be thrilled with you for being so coolheaded under pressure and getting away alive. Or… hell, you know what? I’ll even let you fire off a few blasts with those peashooters you’ve got as we approach so you can be a real hero. Did your best to fight off the pirate menace and lived to tell the tale. I need to test the new armor on this thing anyway.”

“No thanks. I’d rather comply peacefully.”

“Really? Shit, you might’ve gotten promoted. Okay, well, fine. That’s the deal. Go ahead and prep your airlock.”

There! Everything looked normal, but she was carrying three packages with unlisted destinations. Unlisted boxes are always tagged lost upon arrival. Lost packages just sit in the nearest sorting facility until someone shows up to claim their item. Whatever the pirates were after was almost certainly something in one of those.

“Lady? You’re not paying attention.”

“Oh. Sorry. I’m a little shaken up.”

“Calm down. I just told you, it’s all gonna be fine. Real friendly, no violence. You stay peaceful, we stay peaceful. You’ve got nothing to worry about. It’s not our first rodeo.”

“It’s mine.”

The voice laughed. “Hopefully your last, too.” He paused. “Oh, fuck, that came out wrong. Sorry. Didn’t mean to sound threatening. I just meant, you know, we part ways as friendly acquaintances who never want to meet again.”

“I know what you meant.”

“Sorry. Part of my job here is talking you through this. I shouldn’t have said that.”

“It’s fine. I’m not worried.”

“Okay. Thanks. Open up your attachment ports and get your airlock ready, we’ll lock the hoopty up and come on in. Got it?”

“Got it.”

“See you in a few.”

The comm ended. “Silent mode off.” Ashe leapt out of her chair and ran back towards the hold. “Pull all boxes with unlisted destinations right now. Stack them at the front of the hold. Open attachment ports, prepare airlock pressurization.”

“Retrieving packages.” The cargo hold was equipped with a number of actuated arms which zipped around the walls and shelves to sort the ship’s cargo. By the time she entered the bay the boxes were neatly placed near the door. “Mutual docking prodecure engaged. Airlock pressurizing.”

Ashe grabbed the stack and ran back to the cockpit. The airlock opened as she got back into the control seat. “Lock down the cockpit. Lock down everything except the path from the airlock to the cargo bay. Open global intercom.”

“Partial lockdown engaged. Global intercom open.”

“Welcome aboard,” Ashe said. “The intercom’s active. I can hear you if you talk.”

“Nice ship you’ve got here, lady.” It was the same man. “I think you’d better come greet us in person.”

“I feel safer in the cockpit. No offense intended.” She grabbed a knife from her toolbox and started opening the boxes.

“We’d feel safer watching you.”

Ashe cut through the tape of a box as quietly as she could manage. “The cargo bay’s open. You can look through it. I just don’t want a gun to my head after that ‘last rodeo’ thing.”

Fuck. I really am sorry about that.” It was a red leather jacket, vacuum sealed in a bag. She tossed it aside. “Listen, I promise, you’re gonna walk away from this just fine. We just need to make sure you’re not trying to kill us.”

“I’m not. Feel free to do what you have to do in there.” She opened the next box.

“The hard way, then. Get out here or we’ll cut our way into your cockpit.” It was a wafflemaker in a box of its own. “Won’t take long. We brought plasmacutters.” Ashe tore through its box to be sure. It really was just a wafflemaker. It got tossed into the corner with the jacket. “Come out right now and there’s no harm done. Stay in there and you’re gonna end up getting hurt.” She heard the cutters in the background. They were already on their way.

“Okay. I’ll stop the lockdown. Intercom off.”

“Global intercom closed.”

Ashe ripped through the last box. Bingo. A datacard. She heard the cutters making progress and grabbed a small cutter of her own. “Unlock everything except the cockpit door.”

“Partial lockdown disengaged.”

It was less than a minute before she heard a knock against the metal. “Hey, now. You still have to come out. Last chance.”

Ashe lit her cutter and pressed a button on the control board to open the door. There were three of them, clad in jet black suits which covered their whole bodies. Their helmets were black, too; angular and polished to a sheen. They all had pistols at their sides. Ashe held the cutter to the datacard. “You all get off my ship right now or I burn this thing to ashes.”

The pirate in front cocked his head to the side. “The fuck are you talking about?” The other two glanced at each other.

“I’ll burn it.”

“Lady, we don’t want… whatever that is.”

“Don’t play games. I’ll do it.”

The pirate shrugged. “Okay. Burn it.”

Ashe hesitated. “I will.”

“Burn the damn thing so we can get on with this.”

“You really aren’t here for this? What the hell are you here for?”

“Lady, the less you know–”

“Boss,” another of the suits chimed in, “it’s right there.”

He pointed. Ashe looked. The corner.

“Ho-ly shit.” The leader slowly crouched and stared at the discarded items. “Yeah, that’s it.”

“You want… that junk?”

“Yeah. Get in the other corner nice and easy, lady.”

Ashe dove to the floor, holding her handheld cutter to the pile. “Get off my ship.”

Whoa! Fuck, hey, whoa, okay, stop. Don’t damage it!”

“You heard me. Get off my ship. I’m taking this stuff to the sorting facility, whatever it is.”

“Okay. Hang on. Relax. We need that. It’s why we’re here. You really don’t know what it is?”

“A wafflemaker and a jacket?”

“Just the jacket. You can keep the other thing. You figured out it was sent without an address on purpose, huh? Pretty smart, lady. We got a tip-off about it. We need it.”

“What is it?”

“Seriously, the less you know–”

Ashe turned the cutter on.

Fuck! Stop, damn it. It’s an old Earth antique, okay? Really ancient. Pressure-sealed to keep it as near-mint as possible. It’s valuable. Very valuable. Look, let’s make a deal. I’ll give you fifty thousand credits for it right now.”

“What stops you from killing me the second you pay me?”

“I promise, I won’t. I just want the jacket.”

“No deal. Your word’s worth nothing. That money would make me complicit in your crime, anyway.”

“Shit.” The leader rubbed at his face, as if he forgot he was wearing a helmet. “Okay. New deal. I’ll take off my helmet, my gun, my gear. These guys take my stuff, get back in the doofer, and our fleet escorts you to that little fuel stop you charted towards. I stay on board. You give me the jacket and I’ll go into the depot’s convenience store to wait for my gang when we land. If we blew up your ship there all of their security cameras would see it. We’d be screwed. Look, you want to live, I want that jacket. This is the only way we both get what we want.”

Ashe thought about it. “You give them everything you’ve got. They fly away and don’t follow me for at least an hour. They can trail us afterwards. You get locked up in a closet until we land. Then you leave with the jacket. If anyone at the Guild ever finds out about this, I’ll say you hijacked the ship, took my information, and threatened to kill me and everyone I know if I told anyone. And you have to tell me what this thing really is.”

“Done.” He took off his helmet and started removing his gear. He was younger than Ashe had expected. “Ever heard of Michael Jackson?” His voice had changed. It was more tinny and anxious than before.

“Some famous singer from Old Earth, right?”

“Yeah. That jacket was his. It’s iconic. Have you heard Thriller?”

“I’m not really into classical music.”

“Too bad. It’s great, way better than that nu-synthojam shit everyone likes now.” He tossed his stuff to the other pirates. “Get back to the ship and get out of here. You heard the lady, at least an hour behind. Got it?”

“Sure, boss.”

“Boss, you gonna be okay?”

“Of course I am. Get out of here.” He watched his underlings leave. “So, can I see it?”

“No. It’s not yours until we land.” She took a deep breath. “Okay, new orders. Run a systemized lockdown while our guests are on their way out. Close every door behind them. As soon as they’re detached, jump to lightspeed. Get us to that fuel depot. Confirm commands the short way, please.”

“Commands confirmed.”

Ashe sighed. “How much are you gonna sell it for, anyway?”

“Sell it? Are you crazy? That was Michael’s jacket. I’m going to wear it.”

It didn’t take long to lock the kid up once his friends had left. Ashe plopped back into the control seat. I nearly died over a fucking jacket.

“Hey,” she said, “do we have any Michael Jackson in the onboard library?”

“Michael Jackson not detected.”

“Download some when you get a chance, next time we’re out of lightspeed.”

“Michael Jackson discography added to download queue.”

“How long until we hit that fuel stop?”

“Pariah Corporation Fueling Depot. Eight minutes away.”

“Refuel when we get there. Use the Guild account. Oh, and do me a favor. See if they sell waffle mix.”

Out of Lightspeed by Ethan Hedman